What household items to buy (and avoid) at the dollar store
When it comes to dollar stores, there’s a lot to unpack, like their tendency to appear in food deserts, and their impact on the local economy– but that’s not what we’re talking about today. Because regardless of how you view these discount chains, 80% of Americans shop at dollar stores at least occasionally, according to one. Consumer Reports June 2021 Poll.
And while that’s the case, it makes sense to gain a better understanding of which household items are good value in dollar stores and which aren’t.
Recently a group of Consumer Reports experts provided some advice to be a smart dollar store buyer. Here are a few to help you get the best deals on necessities for your home, courtesy of John Galeotafiore, associate director of product testing at Consumer Reports.
Do not pass the driveway
While you might not think of dollar stores as the place to pick up items for your car, it can be useful for getting general items like windshield wiper fluid, baby wipes. clean up spills and cords for plugging in electronic devices.
And while many engine oil stock, Galeotafiore says to check the bottle and make sure it is carrying the American Petroleum Institute certification mark. “Even though it’s a brand you don’t recognize, that brand means it meets the latest industry standards,” he explains.
The hardware section contains the basics (but not much else)
The dollar store’s hardware aisle may seem wide, but Galeotafiore recommends entering with realistic expectations. Sure, you can expect to find things like tape measures, claw hammers, and screwdrivers, but if you’re looking for something more specialized, or for more complicated tasks, he suggests going straight to the hardware store.
Paper products in a pinch
Not everyone can go to wholesale or big box stores to buy their toilet paper and tissues in bulk. In such situations, paper products and other household items are likely to be cheaper in dollar stores than they would be in stores. other local establishments, like convenience stores or gas stations.
People already seem to know that, however, given that the majority of people who shop in dollar stores typically buy household items there, according to Consumer Reports survey.
Watch out for light bulbs
Yes, you are going to find light bulbs in dollar stores, and yes, they will be inexpensive. But according to Galeotafiore, they are more likely to be incandescent bulbs than LED ones. And while LED bulbs themselves are generally more expensive, they use less power and last much longer, so they end up being more cost effective in the long run.
“To save time and money,” says Galeotafiore, “write down the details of the bulb you are replacing, so you don’t end up with something that isn’t quite right.”